We sat down with Skrill, NETELLER & Income Access CEO Lorenzo Pellegrino to hear more about the new Skrill multicurrency wallet function, which allows consumers to trade cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin
What drove Skrill to enter the crypto trading market?
Digital money and cryptocurrencies have a lot in common; characteristics that were once solely attributable to digital money are now also shared by cryptocurrencies, so it is a natural fit for experts in digital money such as Skrill to be interested in the cryptocurrency space. And more generally we are excited about the growth potential in the industry, and the huge amount of investment in technology and overall innovation in the space. As digital finance leaders we believe that Skrill can play a significant role in this evolution and create value, for the industry and consequentially the world of consumers. Connecting the dots between cryptocurrencies and traditional money in an efficient and user friendly manner is the achievement necessary to take the next step forward for cryptocurrencies, and Skrill is in a great position to facilitate that.
Are there any other major competitors in the space?
We are in the very early stages of allowing users to interact with cryptocurrencies on the Skrill platform, with the exception of allowing consumers to deposit into their wallet using Bitcoin which has been a functionality for some time. The new functionality that we have recently launched allows customers to buy cryptocurrencies with fiat currency on the platform, and then sell that cryptocurrency back into fiat currency if they choose to do so. And as Skrill users in every market can quickly deposit into their wallets through multiple deposit options in addition to bank cards, such as direct bank transfer, consumers can finance the trading of crypto in the way that suits their preference.
But this is just the first step on our cryptocurrency offering journey. There are other wallets and start-ups that currently offer a similar product, but the differentiator for Skrill is that we plan to offer a much greater breadth of services soon. Thanks to our industry-leading KYC tools we also have the capability to onboard new user quickly and safely, which is another strong differentiator for us.
As we add more functionalities, we will have other players in the space to view as competition, but perhaps not a single competitor that can offer all the functionalities we will provide.
Do you envisage Skrill's cryptocurrency offering primarily being an instant payment platform such as Revolut, or a fully-fledged cryptocurrency exchange such as Coinbase?
The natural philosophy and objectives for Skrill always revolve around enabling consumers to use their money, including cryptocurrencies, easily and instantly. So in that sense, adding features to the service that provides a better UX is definitely part of the plan moving forward. Becoming an exchange is also a possibility. As we gain traction and knowledge in the space more opportunities will present themselves. Nothing is impossible or off the table as thing stand.
Do you have a target date for when users of the new function can interact with merchants using cryptocurrencies?
The first step is to complete the rollout of the current functionality. We still need to implement the function on our mobile app, we also plan to expand the rollout to more countries, and so on. Enabling people to use their crypto-funds directly is definitely in the pipeline, but we are still determining how to prioritise the next phase of development as there are functions in the same pipeline as well. It is important to note though that even with the current functionality customers can exchange any cryptocurrency they hold immediately back into a fiat with only one click, and then use that money via Skrill at any merchant directly, or via the Skrill Prepaid Mastercard. So in one sense you can use crypto to make purchases almost instantaneously. And we are still working on improving this experience and making it even more seamless.
Will your payments change the crypto into fiat before transacting, or will they remain crypto throughout the process?
That can depend on many factors. Both are an option, but the ultimate objective is for such payments to happen in crypto and remain in crypto throughout the entire payment process.
How are users wallets secure? Are they all hot wallets or do you have cold storage also?
As of now users can essentially buy an interest into an underlying crypto asset through us. We do not offer crypto wallets to users, and they do not own the cryptocurrency. We do this through partnerships with the biggest and most reputable providers that are updating our crypto/fiat balances in real time and storing our crypto assets. This enables us to manage our own risk, whilst allowing our customers to safely gain exposure to the currencies we have enabled: BTC, BCH, ETH, LTC, with just one click. They do not need to setup wallets personally, which is important as this can be a block for many people.
When will users be able to transfer crypto into and out from the Skrill wallet?
This is an essential capability, which we definitely have plans to introduce to the wallet within the short to mid-term.
What advice would you give to people who are hesitant to engage with cryptocurrencies?
Blockchain technology carries so much excitement and promise for the future of finance, and cryptocurrencies are an up-and-coming asset class characterised by high volatility. Be cautious and make sure you understand the assets, and if you decide to invest, do it with Skrill!
Which merchants/industry do you think will take up your crypto offering soonest once you launch it?
Currently we want to focus on the user experience, and the addition of other features that will expand and complement this. But as soon as we have a proposition which we are comfortable with rolling out to merchants, I am sure that there will be a huge amount of interest in this.
This interview was originally published on Bitstarz.com